One of the lesser-understood symptoms of menopause is allergies. Many people struggle with allergies on a daily basis, but since hormones and the immune system are connected, there is a chance that the transition through menopause could make allergies worse. Keep reading below to learn more about allergies during menopause and how you can lessen their impact on your life.
What Are Menopausal Allergies?
Menopausal allergies are allergic reactions that newly appear or worsen as a women transitions to no longer having a monthly period. These reactions can appear on the skin, in the upper respiratory system, or in the digestive system.
Why Do I Have Allergies?
Your immune system and your hormones work in tandem with one another. Some people are born with allergies, but people can also develop allergies or allergic reactions throughout their lifetime. This can happen when hormone levels are in flux, which occurs during stages like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Allergies can also develop as both men and women age, and it is sometimes difficult to trace back a cause as to why a person develops a certain allergy.
Women who are transitioning through menopause may be more susceptible to developing new allergies or experiencing more severe reactions from their current allergies. The natural fluctuation of hormones during this time may impact the immune system and cause an increased sensitivity to certain allergens.
Types of Allergic Conditions
Allergic reactions occur when the immune system misidentifies a substance as being harmful and reacts to prevent it from causing damage. There are several different types of allergens that can lead to the following allergic conditions:
- Allergic asthma
- Hives and rashes
- Allergic rhinitis (nasal congestion)
An allergen is a substance that the body mistakes as being harmful. People are allergic to different allergens, but the most common are:
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- Insect bites and stings
- Food, especially shellfish and nuts
- Certain medications
Each person is affected differently. Some experience very mild symptoms, while others have severe and even life-threatening symptoms.
- Mild symptoms. light rashes, itchy eyes, congestion, and sneezing.
- Moderate symptoms. hives and itchiness, difficulty breathing, and drop in blood pressure.
- Severe symptoms. swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, confusion, and anaphylaxis.
How Can I Manage My Allergies?
Receiving an allergy test can help identify any allergens you have, and once you know this, it will be easier to protect yourself against your allergies. Of course, avoiding what is causing your allergies is always helpful, but this is not always possible, so taking over-the-counter allergy medicine and using nasal spray can help protect you against environmental allergies. People can also receive weekly shots over a period of time, which serves as an “allergy vaccine” and can help dissipate allergies over time.
If you have a food or medication allergy, avoiding that substance and all traces of it is imperative, especially if your allergy is severe. If you feel yourself having an allergic reaction to a food or medicine, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Stoping Allergies during Menopause
There are also herbal supplements that can help treat menopausal allergies by helping to balance hormone levels. It's important to remember that a healthy body is the best defense against allergies.